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Rec.humor.funny Threatened by MasterCard 299

Posted by michael
from the can't-take-a-joke dept.
MotyaKatz writes: "The last article in the rec.humor.funny newsgroup comes from the editor (aka moderator), Brad Templeton himself. Amazingly, after two years, MasterCard decided that this joke violates their "priceless" trademark and requested its immediate removal. The reply of Mr. Templeton shows the sense of humor only the RHF editor can have!"

Templeton's response was right on target. But I can't help taking a crack at it:

Getting the idea that you should protect your brands on the internet: free.

Hiring firms to search out and police such "violations": $millions.

Getting slammed with negative publicity because you're sending out cease-and-desist letters like a bunch of idiots, which makes your customers think of your stupidity whenever they see your commercial: $millions more.

Learning from your mistakes the first time you make them: priceless.

There are some experiences that money can't buy. For every other mistake you make multiple times, firing the executive responsible is fun too.

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Rec.humor.funny Threatened by MasterCard

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:16PM (#300152)
    All the rest are belong to MasterCard.
  • What about places like this [laffworks.com], who have exactly the same content, to a far less tasteful degree (yup, less tasteful than columbine jokes) and far more of it. Don't they deserve threatening letters as well?
  • by Erbo (384) <obreerboNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @06:41PM (#300154) Homepage Journal
    And, not only does Al ask permission before doing parodies, he always goes to the original songwriters first, whereever possible.

    Case in point: When Al wrote his first Star Wars parody, "Yoda" (parody of The Kinks' "Lola"), he managed to get permission from Lucasfilm, but he asked the publishing company controlling the rights to "Lola" for permission first, and they turned him down. Some time later, Al ran into Ray Davies, and asked him why he'd been turned down. It turned out Davies hadn't even been asked. Naturally, being a nice guy himself, Davies helped Al get the rights issue straightened out, and "Yoda" was finally released on Al's Dare To Be Stupid album. Since then, Al has always tried to go to the original songwriters to ask permission, even, in one well-known instance, contacting Kurt Cobain on the set of Saturday Night Live (through his friend Victoria Jackson) for permission to do "Smells Like Nirvana." (Cobain agreed, then asked, "Wait a minute...is this going to be about food?" Al assured him it wasn't.)

    As for the "Amish Paradise" incident...Coolio isn't on the firmest moral ground himself, as he isn't really the original artist either; he borrowed the riffs and chorus of "Gangsta's Paradise" from Stevie Wonder's song "Pastime Paradise" (from the classic album Songs in the Key of Life). Still, yes, Al does feel bad about the whole incident, but there's no denying that "Amish Paradise" is a pretty damn funny song.

    Al is not only a nice guy, but he's one of the more highly underrated comedic minds of our time, certainly the best known comedy musician of the modern era, and he sure looks a lot better since he got LASIK surgery and quit wearing those glasses all the time :-).

    Eric
    --

  • i think the point is that it *was* labled as satire, and that mastercard *doesn't* have a "pot to piss in".
  • by sheldon (2322) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:31PM (#300160)
    Now that's interesting... The GOP recently pushed forward a bill that would make it harder for people declaring bankruptcy to get out of credit card debt.

    Then to find that there is a direct connection between the GOP and Mastercard.

    Well actually, not surprised. Just didn't realize the connection was so direct.
  • Is Robert Selander. Chances are pretty good that robert.selander@mastercard.com is a valid address. Tell him how you feel.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:49PM (#300168) Homepage
    There's a fine line between humor and and outright poor taste.

    There is, and thank God that you don't pick where that line is and that which side of the line a particular piece of parody is on has no impact on its legality.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:22PM (#300169) Homepage
    Not just you.

    There's a lot of tragedy in this world. If you can't laugh about it, then how can you deal with it? It's a nice coping mechanism. People who can't laugh at tragedy have as their only recourse just not thinking about it, and I've never been fond of head-in-sand types of behavior.

    I didn't find this funny when I read it, but that's because Mastercard slogan parodies were played out a long time ago. That, and I now associate Columbine with endless Katz articles and the mis-labeling of a clique of 20 rich kids as "outcasts".
  • You mean like this:

    One honest day's work: $200.--

    One microbrew: $1.--, plus deposit

    One connection to the Internet: $7.--/month

    Reading a 'Net story about another corporation full of overpaid, underbrained dweebs make fools of themselves: priceless.

    Geoff
  • I seem to remember that Weird Al has to get permission to do things like the star wars version of American Pie, but does not to do things like Fat.


    He doesn't HAVE to get permission. He DOES because he's a nice guy that doesn't want to offend the original artist.

    There was a rather long segment in the Behind The Music show on him last year that went into the story behind Coolio not giving permission to spoof Gangster Paradise, but someone told Al that he HAD given permission. Al apologized several times, and said he would not have done it had he known.

    However, even though it was known that Coolio didn't like it before the song (Amish Paradise) was released, they went ahead because they had already gone through the effort and money to produce it, and Coolio's permission is not needed

  • by kzinti (9651) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:00PM (#300176) Homepage Journal
    I think we are all missing the point. Copyright is not the issue here, but rather good taste. If such a sick parody is allowed to be made, what's next? It's not censorship to order the joke be stopped, it's responsible web hosting. I'm glad that someone is finally fighting for the children.

    HAhahahahaha! Stop it! You're making my sides hurt!

    But seriously, if you follow r.h.f, and I've been reading it for about ten years now, then you know that Brad has never shied away from "sick" humor -- or any other kind, for that matter. His only criteria for posts to r.h.f is that they should be funny. He's got a great sense of humor, and I'm glad to see him respond to MasterCard in such an appropriately funny manner. (And, BTW, it was Trademark infringement, not Copyright.)

    Rec.humor.funny is one of the longstanding gems of the 'net. Long may it run!

    --Jim
  • by MAXOMENOS (9802) <maxomaiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @02:58PM (#300177) Homepage
    I assume the Mastercard lawyers know about parody being protected. If not, maybe education in law is lacking something these days.

    Mastercard's lawyers also know that sending off a bark letter when their client is offended is a slam dunk. It's cheap (for them), the hours are billable, and it's 100% within the law. Best case scenario, it could lead Mastercard to take rhf to court. Which would be lots and lots of billable hours.

    Oh yeah...rights? Well, they're nice and all, but there's money to be made.

    ObJectBridge [sourceforge.net] (GPL'd Java ODMG) needs volunteers.

  • Interestingly, I knew some folks working for MasterCard, and they had a whole lot of fun passing around the, shall we say, questionable taste jpgs going around about black party dresses and doing the limbo etc, which were just as much infringers on this. Sadly, a jpg can't be traced to a specific person, so I guess the lawyers had to attack people who were more identifiable.
  • by nyet (19118)
    There is a HUGE difference between being "unhappy" about something and sending a cease and desist letter.

    You may as well send your bus driver a cease and desist note ever time he demands exact change.
  • New AMD K6-2/400 computer, handmade from white boxes: $350

    768kb DSL link: $79.95/mo plus tax.

    Login to slashdot: $free

    Seeing big companies like Microsoft and Mastercard (and the Church of Scientology) get their asses kicked by the likes of Taco and Templeton:

    PRICELESS

    There's some news money can't buy. For everything else, there's Slashdot. :)

  • Actually, I'm not confusing copyright law and plagiarism at all. Your original post said copying is okay if it's for educational purposes and that simply isn't true from a legal standpoint, whatever 'rules' you believe exist about research and paper writing.

    Sure you can cite and quote pieces of a copyrighted work in your thesis or term paper, just as I could do so in a newspaper article or a website. that's 'fair use' and applies if you're using excerpts for use as examples or references.

    There are legal rules for what constitutes fair use, limiting you from copying an entire document, or selling excerpts without added value. These rules don't have anything to do with whether the document or individual is associated with an educational institution. They don't have any greater right under the law to bypass copyright.

    And just to be clear, even though it happens all the time, it's not legal for a teacher to photocopy a chapter of a book for all their students without written permission from, and/or compensation to, the copyright holder.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • Actually, you're not quite right. Readers are very often collections of excerpts from books, be they novels, textbooks, whatever. These excerpts, like the chapter photocopied by a teacher for their students, are protected by copyright law.

    Publishers rarely make an issue of it, but a teacher photocopying just those chapters of a textbook as are relevant to their lesson plan and distributing them to their students, are just as much in violation of copyright law as I would be if I posted the first chapter of the latest Neal Stephenson novel on my website.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • Thanks for the link, Dlugar.

    Excerpt from the same document:
    "In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -
    ...
    • (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;

    Actually, Congress had quite a bit more to say in the notes [cornell.edu] portion of the same 1976 Copyright Act (summarized version [sc.edu]):
    SECTION 107: FAIR USE EXEMPTION
    • Educators are allowed exemptions under the "Fair Use" doctrine, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use) and scholarly research.
    NOTE: This is a controversial idea that has grown out of 200 years of court rulings in U.S. history. When Congress passed the 1976 Copyright Act, it was loathe to define FAIR USE, saying, "there is no disposition to freeze the (fair use) doctrine in the statute, especially during a period of rapid technological change." However, Congress did provide certain basic "criteria" to determine what use was "fair." The 1976 Copyright Act set forth four "provisions" by which copyrighted materials could be used in non-profit educational settings. Remember, these are guidelines only; the Copyright Act doesn't set quantitative limits on what can be copied. In determining if "fair use" has been violated, courts try to answer the following four questions, based on the four provisions of the law:
    1. Is the purpose or character of use commercial or non-profit (i.e., educational)?
    2. Is the nature of the copyrighted work creative or informational (i.e., factual)?
    3. What is the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole? (Rule of thumb: use no more than is necessary. For small poems, perhaps the entire work; for larger works, only a small amount; but NEVER copy the "heart" or "creative essence" of a work -- that's infringement!)
    4. What is the effect of this use on the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work? (This is the most important question of the four; did the copying or use deprive the copyright holder of a sale? Copying should not harm the commercial value of the work.)

    SINGLE COPIES FOR CLASSROOM USE
    Fair use guidelines allow teachers to make single copies of the following:
    • A chapter from a book.
    • An article from a periodical or newspaper.
    • A short story, short essay, or short poem, whether or not from a collective work.
    • A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon, or picture from a book, periodical or newspaper.
    ...
    MULTIPLE COPIES FOR CLASSROOM USE
    Fair use guidelines allow teachers to make multiple copies with the following limitations:
    • The copying MUST be done at the initiative of the teacher (at a moment of inspiration, when it is unreasonable to get permission from the copyright owner). NOTE: If you have time to seek a publisher's reprint, or get permission, you are obligated to do so. It is only if you do NOT have time that "fair use" allows you to make copies for students.
    • Only one copy is made for each student.
    • No charge is made to the student except to recover the cost of copying.
    • The copying is done for only one course.
    • The same item is NOT reproduced from term to term.
    • No more than one work is copied from a single author.
    • No more than three authors are copied from a single collective work (e.g., an anthology).
    • No more than nine instances of multiple copying occur during a single term or semester.
    • For an article, the limit is 2,500 words.
    • For a longer work of prose, the limit is 1,000 words, or 10% of the work, whichever is less.
    • For a poem, the limit is 250 words.
    • For a longer poem, an excerpt of no more than 250 words.
    • For a chart, diagram, cartoon or picture, the limit is no more than one from a book, periodical or newspaper.
    • "Consumable works," (e.g., workbooks and standardized tests) shall NOT be copied.

    COURSEPACKS
    The practice of creating "Coursepacks" of selected readings for students to use in their coursework is surrounded by controversy. It's probably an
    issue that falls more properly under the category of making multiple copies. In any event, under the law, coursepacks may be:
    • Limited for brevity.
    • Limited to one semester or term.
    • Limited to non-profit educational settings.
    • Subject to acquisition of permissions or licensing.
    As you can see, 17.107 is a starting point, from which many interpretations can be made. Since I no longer have access to Lexis-Nexis I can't pop up court cases, but citing 107 as a blanket permission for classroom use is not an accurate representation of the law in practice.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • by KFury (19522) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:37PM (#300191) Homepage
    'educational use' is not a legitimate use of 'anything copyrighted'.

    Funny thing, I'm not allowed to go photocopy textbooks or swipe stat software from campus computers for homework.

    Why do you think readers cost so much? It's not for the photocopying and binding, it's for the copyright royalties.

    IANAL, but I know that much.

    Kevin Fox
    --
  • There should be some law against knowingly threatening legal harassment.

    This is all funny.. but there is absolutely *no way* any competent lawyer (and we can only assume mastercard has good lawyers) would even suggest that a trademark suit would be successful here. Given that, is the lawyer not fraudulently claiming, on his knowledge as a lawyer, that a common non-lawyer citizen is breaking the law?
  • "THERE ARE SOME THINGS MONEY CAN?T BUY, FOR EVERYTHING ELSE THERE'S MASTERCARD"

    How nice of them to trademark the misspelling "CAN?T" and leave the proper "CAN'T" unencumbered.

  • by Dunx (23729) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:09PM (#300197) Homepage
    From Mastercard's cease and desist letter:
    This material (the "Infringing Material ") blatantly copies the sequential display of a series of items belonging to one or more individuals, showing, the "price" of each item, and, at the end, infringes,
    with impunity, the MASTERCARD Mark and the Priceless Marks.
    From dictionary.com:
    impunity n : exemption from punishment or loss
    So what Mastercard's lawyers have very kindly done is said "go ahead, we won't punish you".
    --
    Dunx
  • When the law and precedent are clearly on your side to not fight is the wrong thing to do. Mastercard's lawyers are being bullies, and they clearly have nothing better to do than smear the name of a huge corporation by acting like school-yard thugs. I think the moderator's response on r.h.f. was spot on and maybe the lawyers will get it through their slime-oozing minds that by attacking a two-year-old joke (which I thought squandered the use of "priceless" in a completely unfunny way... I'm pretty tolerant of offensive material if it's funny, but this just struck me as weak and stale) they are only causing themselves and their client harm in the minds of people who are just wacky enough to do things like cancel their credit cards (which I've considered), otherwise the real joke is on them.

  • Add to this the concept that if you make enough laws, then everyone is a criminal, and you can see how we have appointed ourselves tyrants to rule over us.

    I get upset when I hear the media crow about how "Congress is at an impasse" and "can't get anything done." In my opinion, they've done enough. I don't want them doing anymore. I'd like to see quite a bit of what they have done, undone. I'd like to see the air conditioners removed from Congressional buildings so that they would all go home in the summer like they did before the 1940's. Then they would have to live like normal citizens and could become criminals too.

    Note than in history, when a king wanted to consolidate his power, he would remove the aristocracy from the countryside and make them all live close to him. Notice where all the congressional 'delegates' now live.

  • A simple Google search [google.com] should be enough to convince any judge that the trademarked phrases have been hopelessly diluted and absorbed into mainstream culture. It is far too late for Mastercard to go around trying to protect their trademark.

    What do I recommend?

    Kleenex : $2
    Watching a major corporation engage in a humorous campaign of self destruction: Priceless.
  • Back in the day, there was net.funny.

    After The Great Renaming (which was just before I came into the picture), it became rec.humor.

    rec.humor was unmoderated, and as such had as much noise as any unmoderated group.

    rec.humor.funny was a moderated forum where jokes were reviewed, catagorized, and some were approved for posting.

    The nice thing was that it was all pretty even handed. There were such catagories as "smirk", "chuckle", "sick" and so on. If you sent in something, and it wasn't just dumb, there was a good chance it would show up.

    Ah, for the yesterdays of Usenet....
  • Accidently bombed the Chinese Embassy??? I don't think so - it was probably deliberate. Remember, this embassy was bombed just two days after the stealth bomber was brought down. There is a very high probability that the stealth bomber was in the embassy when it was bombed, and that the bombing was done to destroy the plane.
  • That was a real live mistake made by a real live human being. I'll take credit (or the blame) for that mistake because I am a human being and have a moral sense. MS OTOH will do no such thing.
  • by Malcontent (40834) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @05:27PM (#300210)
    most likely it's an artifact of frontpage. Frontpage makes it's authors look like morons by trying to get fancy with apostrophes. That's why there is the demoronizer [fourmilab.ch]
  • They may be, but should they claim to be Funny(tm), they will be notified by Mr. Templeton that he is the sole owner of that mark.
    --
  • Of course, being the G that he is, he could always arrange a driveby ;-)
    j/k
  • (and I do)

    MasterCard had better not try take this to court.

    Brad is the Chairman of the board of the EFF, and if he needed a war chest to fight them, he could raise it with a few phone calls.

    Way to go, Brad!

    Knowing that a bunch of corporate drones have their panties in a bunch because you didn't just fold up and do what they said: Priceless.

    -jcr
  • I like the detail of this post, and agree that the MC drones
    are probably more interested in showing a practice of defending
    their TM's vigorously.


    But I disagree that the "Flynt movie had an inordinate and unfortunate
    impact on the American public." Rights are not static -- they evolve
    over time. Unused rights wither, new rights grow. Look at the Miranda
    Rights. Even British crooks are asking for their phone calls and
    lawyers, even though they have no such rights under UK law. And
    they are getting them, because the UK police cannot refuse everyone.


    Democracy is a very powerful institution. It can certainly overpower
    law. Once a significant fraction of the population start doing
    something, the law simply cannot stop them. This is called civil disobedience, and generally results in laws being changed [sodomy].

  • Well, i don't think this "throwing money at something to make it valuable" attitude with trademarks makes not much sense, where it not for laws that made it so. I believe MasterCard is in fact very happy to see so many "priceless" jokes and to see their name under them. So if they have all those cubicled attorneys bullying people all over the world with cease and desist letters they deserve to be laughed at. If they loose face because the jokes now make ridicule of themselves they simply deserve it.

    I'm sorry, but i don't think allowing big companies to send those letters without risking anything should be part of a good legal system. If i bully someone around on the street he can sue me, but if a 3rd grade attorney sends me threatening letters in the name of some company i can't do a thing. Oh wait, i can, i can publish it and damage the companys reputation that way. And that's exactly what happened.
  • I never saw the advertisement during normal advertising hours here in the SF Bay Area.

    However, soon after Mastercard brought their lawsuit, Jay Leno actually had Nader on the Tonight Show, and they showed the ad for the audience. Jay Leno understands what parody is.

    You can see the advert [votenader.org] at VoteNader.org.

    Unfortunately, you need Quicktime to view this ad. Feh!

  • I would say it is a joke, nothing more.

    The reply is dated April, 1 (as seen in the URL).

    Err., no. The URL has the year (2001, in a non-Y2K compliant format), and the month (April). The Index page shows that the reply was posted on the same day that Master Card letter was received, April 9, 2001.

    Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, this is for real. And a good reason why Shakespeare had it right when he said that the first thing that should be done is to kill all the lawyers.

  • Just need to change one word, and it'll fit in with the context nicely:

    "There are some things that money can't buy. For everything else there's Blastercard"

    MC wouldn't be able to do anything as in their C&D letter, "TASTTMCB.FEET" is not one of their trademarks. Adding MasterCard to the end is. Which means that anyone can say "There are some things that money can't buy. For everything else there's x", where x is any noun, except MasterCard.
    --
  • by Chris Brewer (66818) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @06:33PM (#300233) Journal
    But in the context of the parody (Columbine), "BlasterCard" is a much more appropriate substitute.
    --
  • It has always been my personal opinion that, since the laws are WRITTEN by lawyers, PROSECUTED by lawyers, DEFENDED by lawyers, and finally offenses are JUDGED by lawyers, that it is in their best interest to make laws that laypeople cannot understand. That way, lawyers are then also needed to INTERPRET/TRANSLATE the laws.
    Hell, when a lawyer 'mis-behaves', the 'checks-and-balances system' is STAFFED with lawyers.

    Yet, in the computing industry, we get bashed because things are not 'User Friendly' enough, and Linux/UNIX gets bashed because 'you need to know computers to use it'.

    The difference is, in computers, you still have to convince people to BUY them. We don't have that option on OBEYING the laws.

  • Dial up account: $10/month

    Perl Script to auto post when a new /. article appears: 4 hours.

    The satisfaction of getting your ASCII Goatse.cx picture posted: Priceless.

    There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's CowboyNeal.

  • <i>
    "There are some things that money can't buy. For everything else there's Blastercard"
    </i>
    <p>
    Actually, make that MasterCRUD. The words should start with the same letters as much as possible, and by using words such as as 'crud' to describe their product, it would be a good way to hit back at the nitpickers.
  • If you don't rigorously enforce/protect your trademarks every time there's a possible infringement, the trademarks themselves can and will be wiped out.

    This is very different from patent law, where a patent may be left idle. The patent holder can selectively choose to defend, license or ignore those who are possibly infringing. (It is for this reason that I am not against patents themselves, but against those patent bullies who find new revenue sources in the courtroom.)

    "If you don't agree with the law, fix it." Explore the ways that trademark law can be fixed, and contact your local government official.

  • Uh, read up on the differences between types of intellectual property: copyright, trademark, patent, trade secrets. While the other three are aimed at establishing legal monopolies, trademark is not.

    If you had a widget, and you didn't patent it, then other people could clone your widget. They just couldn't call it WonderWidget(tm) if that's your trademark. That's no monopoly.

  • I seem to remember that Weird Al has to get permission to do things like the star wars version of American Pie, but does not to do things like Fat.

    The reason being that Fat is a parody of Michael Jackson's Bad song and video, but the star wars song (don't know real name) is not a parody of Don McLean's American Pie, but just uses that song to parody Star Wars.

    From this, MasterCard would have a much tougher time suing over Templeton's response (which is using MasterCard's marketting strategy to parody MasterCard's actions) than they would suing over the initial joke (which used MasterCard's marketing strategy to parody Columbine).

    Remember:
    system: $1000
    cable modem: $45/month
    watching jackasses lose their shirts after following legal advice on slashdot: priceless
  • by Tihstae (86842) <Tihstae@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @04:34PM (#300247) Homepage
    Are they absolutely sure it's a real cease and desist?

    Seems like this guy would be a prime target for a practical joke...


    I would say it is a joke, nothing more.

    The reply is dated April, 1 (as seen in the URL).

    Where the letter is posted, the title bar of my browser reads, "April 3, 2001". And the letter itself is dated April 9, 2001.

    So basically, he replied to the letter on April 1, posted the letter on April 3, and was sent the letter on April 9. Not a very good practical joke.

    But that won't stop anyone on /. from bashing Mastercard anyway. :-)

  • by cot (87677) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:08PM (#300248)
    Are they absolutely sure it's a real cease and desist?

    Seems like this guy would be a prime target for a practical joke...
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:51PM (#300249) Homepage Journal
    Plasma Screen TV: $10,000.
    A house full of new furniture: $15,000.
    Porche: $60,000.
    Fucking over a credit card company you know is full of assholes to the tune of $85,000 when you declare chapter 7 bankruptcy: Priceless.

    There are some things in this world that won't get you sued. For everything else, there's Mastercard.

  • by plagiarist (87743) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @09:06PM (#300250)
    First of all, satire or parody is not always protected. This is one of those ideas -- like "possession is nine-tenths of the law" -- that every lay person thinks is a universal rule, but that anyone who bothers to do the research can identify as a more nuanced proposition than usually stated. That Larry Flynt movie has had an inordinate and unfortunate impact on the American public, I'm afraid.

    Every time there's a Slashdot story discussing a legal issue, one or more lawyers post and make the point that laypeople misunderstand the law, or often, that laypeople shouldn't be discussing legal issues in a public forum because they'll inevitably get everything wrong. And it's good that lawyers point this out, because the sad truth is that we *do* seem to get most things wrong.

    There's the real problem - laypeople are expected to obey the law in a society whose laws we can't hope to understand. Shall we all hire lawyers to accompany us through life to make sure we don't accidentally break the law? I'm not trolling - it's really a serious problem, especially for people on Slashdot, who tend to be involved in Internet endeavors where the chance for accidentally committing IP infringement - and getting "caught" - is high. As you might suspect from my name, "plagiarist," I too have had these problems. [censors.org]

    The effect of this is that people with lots of access to lawyers (i.e. corporations) have a very effective hegemony in regards to preventing the rest of us from speaking negatively against them. In other words, many people dare not speak out by parodying a corporation or otherwise speaking critically of them, for fear that a) "Big Brother is Watching," b) "I am Not a Lawyer, so I don't know what's protected and what isn't" and c) "therefore I'd better speak softly - and drop the big stick."

    That's what I see as the real problem. Then again, IANAL.

  • F-17 Stealth fighter jet: $30,000,000

    Guided smart bomb: $1,000,000

    2,000 pounds of high-grade jet fuel: $30,000

    Accurate map of downtown Belgrade: Priceless

    This joke was around right after the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia. I thought it was an efficient use of humor.
  • by Jim Tyre (100017) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:08PM (#300259) Homepage
    Templeton's response was right on target.

    Not quite. Brad's response included:

    Threatening letters to people who satirize you, hoping

    they won't know the law: $500

    The Letter came from Baker Botts [bakerbotts.com], a huge Texas-based law firm. (Y'all remember GWB's front man, James Baker, don't you?) No way they scratch for $500, probably the letter cost more like $5,000.

  • i think those people at mastercard are fools. think of the untapped resource here! ... they say copywrite violation, i'd say it's a goddamn good advertisement for mastercard.
  • For a large company like Mastercard, it is a worthwhile investment to have a staff of cubicled drones, supervised by a third-rate attorney, who is in turn supervised by far better atttorneys up the line, to mail merge and send threatening letters to people who refer to their trademarks, trade dresses, or other intellectual property in manners which they would not prefer.

    That's it! We are laughing at this stupid waste of money! Most people here do not think such an abuse of email and the law is a good business practice to be implemented by "far better attorneys" aka clueless corporate twits. They may want people to roll over, for fear of not knowing any better, but what they've got is this burst of laughter in their face.

    Now get back to droning! If your PHB sees this he might, just might, UNDERSTAND and fire the whole cubicle floor of you loosers. If he really gets it, he might quit spending tons of money on adverts and drop rates to drum up business. Duh.

  • (I think I'm about to breake another trademark here, but....).

    Did anybody notice that their deadline for compliance is Friday The 13'th. They may not come after him with guns blazing (bad PR), but expect them come out with the blades drawn.
    --

  • How much fun it is to watch two idiots above the +1 bonus threshold argue... It really puts some spark in my mouse wheel...
  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @04:49AM (#300275)
    This total fucking disrespect should be illegal

    Should it, now? How interesting that you should say so....

    Disrespect to whom? MasterCard? I don't believe they're paying MY salary!

    The original joke was about as tasteful as distilled water and not entirely funny. However, if tastelessness were to be made criminal, Yoko Ono would have been behind bars years ago.

  • by ouroboros (117584) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @10:38PM (#300280)
    Back in the late 70s, Frank Herbert wrote a book called "The Dosadi Experiment" in which he made some keen observations about our legal system. Sadly, it is out of print. I quote now from p. 336 of the Ace paperback edition:

    "ConSentient Law always makes aristocrats of its practitioners. Gowachin Law stands beneath that pretension. Gowachin Law asks: `Who knows the people? Only such a one is fit to judge in the Courtarena..."

    This is what I see as the real problem. The legal profession has a strong self-interest in making the law as burdensome and as complicated as possible. That way, people must consult an attorney much more frequently than they otherwise might, which increases their power, status, wealth and influence in our society.
  • Yeah, and the punchline would be delivered to the pranksters in the form of a threatening letter from the real Mastercard lawyers, ordering a cease and desist of all attempts to falsely represent Mastercard litigation policy.

    Thats why I'm assuming its real for the moment - I don't think the rec.humor.funny guy is that overwhellingly stupid. I'm not sure where a real legal challenge to the orriginal joke would go (I think keeping the mastercard name in there shows poor judgement on the part of the moderater) But I'm pretty sure where flat out lying about the legal actions of a large corporation would go, especially if a bunch of cranky /.ers really do flood MC with complaints.

    And I don't think most judges consider "April Fools!" to be a compelling legal argument in libel cases....

    Kahuna Burger

  • There was also the issue of child-support payments being considered after credit card bills. I'm not sure if that made it into the final legislation, but I remember it was a sticking point in Congress.

    Yeah, I believe it did. Kids on child support didn't give enough money to campaign warchests, I guess. (pause to retch).

    The real question is, how much of the responsibility do the credit-card companies bear for continuing to offer thousands of dollars in credit to people who are already way in debt?

    This is where I get annoyed at the "its all personal responsibility" people. If someone asks me for a loan, sure they have a personal responsibility to pay me back, but I have just as much personal responsibility to judge their charecter and abilities before trusting them with my money. BS "reforms" like this take a two way interaction between big moneyed lenders and little guys and put every ounce of responsibility on the little guys.

    Credit card companies are making an investment. When they say "lets put a few million dollars in college kids and hope thier parents will bail out their debt when they overrun thier ability to pay" How different is it than me saying "lets put a few thousand in this startup and hope they actually get a product off the ground"? Well, when my investment goes bad, I have to swallow the loss. When mastercard's investments go bad, they swallow your life.

    IIRC, they did manage to get a mansion cap on the homestead clause of the new law to slightly limit the way that a millionare in bankrupcy can still be a millionare, while a normal person in bankrupcy is screwed.

    Kahuna Burger

  • But it should be noted that the Nader ad never used the name of Mastercard. It may not be enough of a difference, but it is a highly significant differnce between the two "parodies" IMHO.

    Kahuna Burger

  • There's a lot of tragedy in this world. If you can't laugh about it, then how can you deal with it? It's a nice coping mechanism. People who can't laugh at tragedy have as their only recourse just not thinking about it, and I've never been fond of head-in-sand types of behavior.

    Uh, actually, there are a lot of other ways to deal with tragedies besides "laughing at it". I mean, if that's the one that works for you, have fun, but its just redicouslous to call any other (perhaps even more healthy) coping machanism "head in the sand behaviour".

    Try not to assume the whole world reacts the same way you do and those who don't show the same outward expressions are just hiding from it. That way lies assinine randians and fred phelps.

    Kahuna Burger

  • "...the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."
    -- US Code: Title 17, Section 107 [cornell.edu]

    Note how it specifically lists that multiple classroom copies is not infringment? If you have any court cases that say otherwise, I would be much obliged, so I can quit spreading around this bogus information.
    Until then, though, this is what stands in my mind.


    Dlugar
  • by hannas (128079) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:06PM (#300291)
    Are they also gonna get sued because of this: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=19991212
  • You (Reg 233434, Tony Soprano) mean "to tell" (Reg 23432, CBS Networks) me that They (TM) can copyright (c) such short phrases? (Reg 345243). This is (Reg 4111999, Bill Clinton) getting ridiculous.

  • You can trademark all kinds of things, but the scope is limited. For instance, Apple computer can trademark the word Apple for use in reference to computers while leaving it OK for use in describing fruit. More amazingly, PeptoBismol can actually trademark their color of pink! That's right, you can't make your stomach medicine the same pink color as PeptoBismol, but you could paint your car that color if you particularly felt like it.

  • The GOP recently pushed forward a bill that would make it harder for people declaring bankruptcy to get out of credit card debt.

    Then to find that there is a direct connection between the GOP and Mastercard.

    It's still somewhat of a sensible policy, if you look into how much the average American owes on his credit cards, and think about what would happen if large numbers of said average Americans started bankruptcying their way out of paying that back.

    'Course, the policy that's *really* needed is something to keep the average American from getting into that debt. But *nobody's* gonna lobby for that. Not the businesses that are making the sales that are running the card up, and not the credit-card companies that are chowing down on the interest. Sigh.

    Heck, if you want to take it all the way back around to the topic at hand, you could blame Mastercard for Columbine. I mean, heck, it's this rampant consumerism, fed by easy credit, that results in the need for two-income families, ergo latchkey children, ergo the whole breakdown in moral fiber that leads to things like Columbine. Yeah, that's the ticket. (Ha ha, only serious.)

  • You are confusing the legal aspects with legitimate research and paper writing. You are not breaking the copyright law by photocopying or by plagerizing, you are breaking the rules for research and paper writing.

    I was not talking about the institution copying, I was talking about the individual. How much do you pay for a book you checked out of the library and used as part of your paper with references?

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • Considering my wife is the librarian for an elementary school and my sister is a patent examiner at the Patent and Trademark Office, this happens to be literally a dinner topic conversation around my house.

    If a teacher has reason to use copyrighted work for a class, not as a regular part of the classroom work but to show a single class a topic, that teacher can copy the whole document, one per student, without violating copyright law.

    If it becomes a regular topic or there is time to contact the copyright holder, the area becomes much grayer, but if one day a student brings up a topic and the next day the teacher wants to have a discussion on that topic and there is a document directly pertaining to that topic, the teacher is well within the law to copy the document and hand those copies to the kids. Educational use.

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by HerrGlock (141750) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @02:57PM (#300306) Homepage
    If Mastercard wants to start bringing suit about this, they need to really dig and if they win, every person on the Earth would end up in jail. Satire, discussion, educational uses, comedy, are all legitimate uses of anything copyrighted.

    What next, they're going to sue David Letterman?

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by btempleton (149110) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @08:37PM (#300309) Homepage
    Fortunately I think this is the typical scattershot cease and desist letter a lot of firms send out just to look like they are pretecting marks and to scare people who don't know better.

    I wasn't scared by it, but I did enjoy responding to a legal letter like that, and I wanted to get the message out to people not to be intimidated by such tactics.

    But really, the picked the wrong guy. Aside from my history dealing with attempts to censor rec.humor.funny, I've also been a plaintiff in a free speech case before the supreme court, and I am chairman of the board of the leading free speech foundation for cyberspace (EFF). So while they did customize the letter, they didn't do to much research, did they?
  • Here is his contact info:

    Russell H. Falconer

    BakerBotts
    212.408.2564

    FAX 212.705.5020

    russell.falconer@bakerbotts.com

    30 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA 44TH FLOOR NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10112-0228

    I am sure he would love to hear more of those!
  • Check it out on adcritic.com:

    http://political.adcritic.com/content/ nader-priceless.html

    (watch the space after "content/")

    "I say consider this day seized!" -Hobbes

  • By gosh you're right--never actually checked the strip. (_Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat_, page 149) I corrected my .sig accordingly.

    "I say consider this day seized!" -Hobbes
  • by fm6 (162816)
    More amazingly, PeptoBismol can actually trademark their color of pink!

    Where on earth did you get that? Safeway sells a private brand stomach remedy that is exactly the same shade of pink as PB. The PB lawyers may claim to own a specific shade of pink. They may even have managed to pursuade the P&T people to let them register it. But both acts do nothing but put them on record as claiming the that shade of pink. They still have to convince a judge that allowing a competitor to use that shade would confuse their customers. Some competitors may back down rather than deal with the legal hassles (just as restauranteurs tend to look for names that don't begin with "Mac" as a cheap alternative to dealing with McDonalds' lawyers), but that doesn't make PBs legal theory anything more than a theory.

    You can trademark all kinds of things,

    When you used "trademark" as a verb, I assume you're referring to getting the mark registered with the PTO. That action doesn't create the trademark, it just puts you on record as claiming it. You can actually establish a trademark just by using it. People were using trademarks for centuries before there any official registry. Fairly good legal summary here [bitlaw.com].

    __

  • I think we are all missing the point. Copyright is not the issue here, but rather good taste. If such a sick parody is allowed to be made, what's next?

    <sarcasm>Yep, that's what's wrong with America: unregulated humor!!!!</sarcasm>

    If you knew anything about children, if you even talked them once in a while, you'd know that they revel in sick jokes. I've never met a kid without a totally nauseating repertoire of them. And this is a healthy thing. Childhood is a nasty, scary place. Well, so is adulthood, but kids don't have our facility for repressing their fears. So they resort to weird, disgusting mechanisms for coping with them.

    If you really want look after your children, stop trying to hide the world from them and start working on helping them cope with it. It's more work than whining about "laxness" and installing useless censorware. But it's the job you signed up for.

    And WTF is William?

    __

  • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:56PM (#300325) Homepage Journal
    OK, we all know how weak MasterCard's case is. Unfortunately, that's kind of beside the point.

    Old legal joke: "Sir, you've examined this matter very thoroughly. There's plenty of documentation, and all the precedents are on your side. There's only one matter that needs to be settled before we can proceed. Exactly how much justice can you afford?"

    Which is actually an even nastier joke than anything about Columbine. It simply doesn't matter whether MasterCard would win in court. What matters is that they can afford to go through the motions, and you can't stand on your first amendment rights unless you can afford it too. Once again, free speech is not free beer.

    __

  • by ReTay (164994) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:02PM (#300327)
    Some people scream, some people would rather laugh. Who are you to tell everybody how to cope with the terminal thing called life?
  • by Dyolf Knip (165446) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @06:02PM (#300328) Homepage
    course this is assuming the corporate thugs at mastercard are mature enough to accept a little bit of parodying of their marketing campaigns

    But they're not! When we have Mastercard bitching about jokes, SGI threatening anyone using the words 'Open' or 'gl' in their product title, the head of the MPAA keenly aware that 2600 puts a parody of his ugly face on t-shirts but totally oblivious to everything else, Fox trying to shut down the "Why Files", Time Warner getting frisky with Harry Potter fan sites, Scientologists demanding publicly available information be taken off /., laws being passed that make it illegal for us to figure out how something works, what are we supposed to do about these guys? Between them, they simply want to patent/trademark/copyright every word and witty expression in existence. While we might reach a 'peaceable compromise' now, they'll just come back next week with some other goody their lawyers dug up. And consider what each side's agenda consists of here. RHF: "We want to amuse people with this joke." MC: "We're afraid some stupid people will equate MC with guns, so we want our name taken off of that joke or we will bluster about and threaten to unleash our flesh-eating lawyers whom we pay solely to spend time in courtrooms erasing people like you from the face of the earth."

    --

  • by NevDull (170554) on Wednesday April 11, 2001 @03:13AM (#300330) Homepage Journal
    Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2001 08:14:02 -0400 (EDT)
    From: dante
    To: bt @ templetons . com
    Subject: Mastercard and Postal Service Violations

    Brad,

    After reading the cease and desist letter from Mastercard's lawyers, I noticed that they had sent you the notice via Federal Express. US law prohibits using private carriers to deliver first-class mail unless there is a specific need which the private carrier meets, which the USPS cannot. I do not see what need FedEx would fill which the USPS could not, as overnight delivery was unnecessary, and registered mail provides proof of delivery for letters from New York to California.

    Legalspeak can be found here:
    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/cfr/39p310.htm

    While "calling the Feds" really would seem futile, sending them a letter to "cease and desist" using private carriers when not necessary
    would certainly be funny.

    -Anthony
  • by Nocode (175478) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @02:59PM (#300332) Journal
    According to the article -
    PRICELESS" (Reg. No. 2,370,508); "THERE ARE SOME THINGS MONEY CAN'T BUY, FOR EVERYTHING ELSE THERE'S MASTERCARD" (Reg. No. 2,259,941); and THERE ARE SOME THINGS MONEY CAN'T BUY. FOR EVERYTHING ELSE THERE'S MASTERCARD." (Reg. No. 2,297,299)


    Id just throw a semi-colon in there and call it a day.

    There are some things money can't buy; for everything else there's Mastercard
  • by Ethanol (176321) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:30PM (#300333)
    The use of the MC commercial format was just a parcel to package up how stupid and fucked in the head those Columbine dickheads were.

    I don't think that's all it was. One of the early "priceless" commercials was about the look on your high school classmates faces when they see you at the reunion in the fancy expensive dress. Turning that into a Columbine reference ("the look on your classmates' faces as you blow them away") is, in fact, a very pointed and incisive parody of the MasterCard commercial itself--making the point that they are, after all, just selling another kind of revenge fantasy.

  • Except for the fact that it used a sentance right out of the commercials that Mastercard apparently has the rights to.

    I would think using the word "Mastercard" would be considered fair use, while saying a phrase like "There are some things that money can't buy. For everything else there's Mastercard" would be blatant copyright infringement.

    I've seen other parodies on this theme (the one with the Flyers fan beating up the Devils fan was funny, even though I'm a Devils fan) but they always omit the last sentance. So it ends "Watching a Devils fan get beat: priceless".

    I would think that Mastercard is "just being forced to protect its copyright" (as so many Slashdotters seem to argue when an open source web site gets socked). Plus, the subject matter wasn't exactly what I'd call "decent", but that's another, subjective discussion for later.

  • Parodies (even those as sick as this) add to Mastercard's brand name recognition.

    What I really would like to see is parrodies of VISA's ad campaign that advocates credit card theft.

  • I seem to remember that Weird Al has to get permission to do things like the star wars version of American Pie, but does not to do things like Fat.

    You're wrong about Wierd Al... It's not hard to find these facts on the web with a google [google.com] search...

    Al not only had permission from Michael Jackson to do "Fat", but Michael -gave- him the "Bad" set to film the "Fat" video! Very cool.
    http://www.yesterdayland.com/popopedia/shows/music /mu1208.php [yesterdayland.com]
    http://www.dailyegyptian.com/fall00/09-29-00/freak .html [dailyegyptian.com]
    http://www.unb.ca/web/bruns/9900/issue9/entertainm ent/weirdal.html [www.unb.ca]

    And a quote from the Al man on Michael Jackson: "He is really a nice guy, very sweet and he let me do two parodies "Eat It" and "Fat.""
  • This is what I see as the real problem. The legal profession has a strong self-interest in making the law as burdensome and as complicated as possible.

    That's part of the problem, I agree, but I think there's another factor at work too.

    Lawyers and legislators like to write laws and other legal documents to be as precise as possible. To that end, they use a specialized jargon (commonly called "legalese") with more precise meanings than ordinary everyday English.

    Now, there's nothing wrong with lawyers, or any other profession, using specialized jargon among themselves in order to make their meaning more precise. Nearly every profession has some such jargon. The problem is that people outside the field do not understand the specialized jargon, making things more confusing for them. The problem is exacerbated in law, because an ordinary, intelligent person ought to be able to understand the law without knowing the jargon. Just as a programmer should not use jargon in explaining his work to a non-programmer, legal documents which apply to laypeople ought to be understandable by those same laypeople.

    A poster in another thread a while back (sorry, don't have the reference) wrote that laws should be written more intelligibly, and held up as a positive example, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. "

    Yes, it's nice that it uses clear language, and is intelligible to the average person without the use of a legal dictionary. It's also incredibly vague, and as a result, literally thousands of court cases every year take place where the court must rule on the interpretation of this sentence.

    So the dilemma lawyers face is between writing vague, non-legalese documents, and precise legalese documents which are difficult for the layperson to understand.

    No, I don't have an easy solution to this. I just wanted to point out that self-preservation is not the sole reason for use of legalese.

  • Getting slammed with negative publicity because you're sending out cease-and-desist letters like a bunch of idiots, which makes your customers think of your stupidity whenever they see your commercial: $millions more.

    Most consumers don't read Slashdot or rec.humor.funny, so they wouldn't know about this. Plus I would venture a guess that Joe TV Fan wouldn't know a cease-and-desist letter if it hit him in the face.

    That doesn't make MasterCard any less stupid, of course. But negative publicity is harder to come by among the general public than among the 400K or so slashdot fans.

  • Personally, I thought it was rather tasteless, and not particularly funny or clever. But I don't see how MasterCard has any legal basis for complaining about this.

    -John
  • by lawyamike (199551) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @06:12PM (#300354) Homepage
    First of all, satire or parody is not always protected. This is one of those ideas -- like "possession is nine-tenths of the law" -- that every lay person thinks is a universal rule, but that anyone who bothers to do the research can identify as a more nuanced proposition than usually stated. That Larry Flynt movie has had an inordinate and unfortunate impact on the American public, I'm afraid.

    With that said, Mastercard probably could not bring a successful cause of action against RHF. Not because parody and satire are always protected, but because the statements in this case could not rise to the level of an actual offense, e.g. business libel, deceptive practices, or other state statutory or other common law claims. The point is, don't think that you can insult, disparage, or mislead with impunity because you have labeled a statement "satire." Seriously.

    The other point is this: Mastercard is not sending the letters because it wants to sue RHF, or because it is serious about making RHF cease and desist. For a large company like Mastercard, it is a worthwhile investment to have a staff of cubicled drones, supervised by a third-rate attorney, who is in turn supervised by far better atttorneys up the line, to mail merge and send threatening letters to people who refer to their trademarks, trade dresses, or other intellectual property in manners which they would not prefer.

    The threat itself isn't supposed to be effectual, but the act of making a show to protect their IP is significant. It shows their competitors or actual, putative infringers that they are watching what's going on, and that they will take action if people get out of line. That way, when a competitor tries to appropriate their IP in a manner that they do not wish, they can prove to the judge or jury just how valuable their investment is, and how much they have spent in time and effort to protect it.

    Write a newspaper letter using the term Kleenex as a generic name for tissue. If your letter garners enough attention, you will receive a letter from the Legal Department of the company that manufactures Kleenex for just that reason. They want to make sure that you understand the difference between Kleenex (proper noun) and the concept of tissue paper generally. They do not want you to dilute their mark in a manner that hastens its descent into public domain. But more importantly, they want to be able to prove that they care about how their IP is being used when a real threat to their IP surfaces.

  • 2001-04-10 14:15:50 Mastercard vs. rec.humor.funny (articles,humor) (rejected)

    That does it. From now on I'm going to post a story five times, at five different times of day, before I consider it "rejected".

  • by odin53 (207172) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @04:59PM (#300359)
    Um, whatever dictionary.com says, the use of impunity in the sentence means that the alleged infringers acted AS IF they were exempted from punishment or loss. I don't think any English speaker with proper diction would understand this sentence in any other way.
  • The reply of Mr. Templeton shows the sense of humor only the RHF editor can have...

    Another way of describing his response is ... "priceless."
  • I didn't 'get' it. Since there was (to my knowledge) any connection between MC and Columbine tragedy, it didn't strike me as either satire or funny. Just using MC's commercial format in a weak attempt to make a twisted joke.

    Now, if the killers *had* used their MC to purchase their weapons, etc., then it would be funny (and still sick, twisted, and offensive).
    -----
    D. Fischer
  • by KillerBob (217953) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:34PM (#300370)
    From that site...

    MSCE Training: $7200
    MCSE Certification: $540
    MCSE logo on your resume: $0
    Getting a job because of the logo: +$60,000/year
    The look on your fellow techicians face when you don't know how to login to an NT workstation: Priceless
    There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard. Accepted everywhere, even at Microsoft.

    How about the A+ (Should that be A-?) who was afraid to replace a power supply... It takes all kinds....
  • by Elendur (228338) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @02:51PM (#300381) Homepage
    I assume the Mastercard lawyers know about parody being protected. If not, maybe education in law is lacking something these days.

    However, I understand their desire to not be associated with humor that so many people would find in poor taste (although I find it pretty funny). Do businesses today know anything about politely asking?
  • I rather liked the VIDEO of the couple gettin' it on in the upper deck at a ball game.

    1 - 2 tickets to Major League Baseball game $60
    2 - hot dogs and beer for you and girl friend $22
    3 - the video of you fucking her, on the Internet - priceless!

    Bwahaha!
  • by RareHeintz (244414) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @03:37PM (#300393) Homepage Journal
    As if MC could stop these parodies from proliferating! I had my own (but slightly dated) parody in that vein regarding Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. Picture this over a grainy black-and-white video of Mr. Barry's antics:

    Crack cocaine: $10 a hit
    Decent hookers: $200 an hour
    Legal fees: $68737.12
    Getting your old job back after getting caught on video smoking rock with working girls: Priceless.

    Some things, money can buy, yadda yadda...

    OK,
    - B
    --

  • Two relatively recent Supreme Court decisions which upheld parody and satire as forms of free speech:

    Hustler Magazine, Inc. vs. Rev. Jerry Falwell [findlaw.com], over a satirical account of Falwell's first sexual experience (with his mother).
    2 Live Crew vs. Acuff-Rose Music [harvard.edu], over a parody of the Roy Orbison song, "Pretty Woman."
  • by pimptastica (261042) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @04:07PM (#300404)
    rec.humor.funny ... does this mean that the rest of the rec.humor groups are unfunny?
  • Honestly,

    All Mastercard was concerned with is the preservation of their trademark... with no mention that the subject matter could be slanderous.

    Who wants to bet that this thing was found by a search script? Potentially automatically generating the cease&decist?

    If: find ": $xx" 1-5 times, followed by "there are some things in life that money can't buy, for everything else, there's Mastercard", then send(cease_n_decist)

    Think of how much the law firm could bill Mastercard for the work done by such a script! "Yeah Bob, we worked 10000 hours to protect your trademarks on the web this month, at $500/hour that's a cool $5M."

    Further diversion from my subject:

    Cost of Mastercard lawyer to come up with the idea for a script: $5000 (conservative estimate)

    Cost to get a high school/college/university student to set it up: $500

    Monthly revenue to the firm: $5 000 000

    Partnership in the firm: priceless

    There are some things in life that money can't buy, for everything else there's "moderate down".

    And I *still* think that allowing one word to be trademarked, "PRICELESS", is ludicrous. I wish I had $billions to facilitate my ideas/ideology/dictatorship of the world!

  • by blizzardx (442317) on Tuesday April 10, 2001 @02:53PM (#300436)
    Did anyone see the ad Nader showed on television during the campaign season? There was a link to it on the original article, but it didn't say a lot. I remember hearing about it, and later hearing how Mastercard had lost its suit against Nader. I doubt they'll have much more luck against a newsgroup. blizzardx

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